A group of around 25 students from Imriehel Secondary School has embarked on a series of ‘outdoor’ projects intended to raise their awareness on the natural environment that surrounds them as well as help them to learn skills that will help them improve their employability perspectives. Olive project’ helped students to become aware of their surroundings with special emphasis on the trees growing on the school premises while raising awareness on olive production and using hands-on horticultural techniques. The idea was conceived and executed by the Youth Worker after consultation with Ms. Desiree Falzon and Mr. Jonathan Attard, Head of School, St. Theresa College, Imriehel Secondary School. The project was extended further to St. Theresa College Birkirkara Middle School with the support of Mr. Michael Vassallo, Head of School.
The topic of olive harvesting, preserving and oil pressing was researched and educational videos depicting the different process were identified. These tools were shown to students to help increase their knowledge about olive growing, care, harvest and processing. A horticulturist lecturing at MCAST was contacted and came to address the students on the oil pressing process, while giving them a taste of extra virgin oil combined to delicious Maltese bread.
The day started early with the preparation of the necessary tools. Students were addressed on how to care for the trees, the environment, as well as the whole process of how olives should be picked, raked and stored in order to gain the maximum yield out of the olives picked. Work started on trees in the West End area of the school and proceeded to the trees in the northern area. Olives were transported in large tanks and delivered to the oil pressing enterprise to start the olive pressing process. The extra virgin oil was poured in sterilised green bottles and a small quantity of olives were marinated and persevered in jars. They were labelled and then sold to parents during the Parents’ Day.
The project generated such an enthusiasm among the students and staff that, as part of the Dinja Waħda programme, it was also duplicated in the Birkirkara Middle School with a group of 7 students and three professionals. Although the number of trees at Ta’ Paris is much smaller than Imrieħel Secondary School, the yield was very similar. The success of the project leads to it being repeated in the next years.
The following shows the enthusiasm with which our students participated in this activity: